Shoofly pie—a molasses-filled, crumb-topped concoction from Pennsylvania Dutch country—was supposedly given its name because its shiny, sweet, and aromatic filling attracted flies that needed to be politely asked to leave. The pie, which is sprinkled with buttery crumbs that sink into the molasses and give it a cakelike consistency when baked, is classically served one of two ways: “wet bottom” (cakelike up top and still fudgy below) or “dry bottom” (cakelike throughout). To us, it was a no-brainer to stop baking when the bottommost layer remained gooey and custard-like.
I use a combination of delicate light and extra-dark blackstrap to get the full range of molasses flavor. If you want to stick to one molasses, substitute 1 cup dark molasses instead.
This gooey, not-too-sweet custard pie is dark, rich, best served with a fat dollop of whipped cream.
Yield: makes 1 pie
For the crust
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
Make the dough: In a food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar and pulse briefly to combine. Sprinkle the butter on top of the flour mixture and pulse until only pea-size pieces of butter remain, 10-15 times. One tablespoon at a time, drizzle in 4 tablespoons of the ice-cold water, or 1-2 more as needed, pulsing briefly after each addition to incorporate. (Dough should look crumby but hold together when pinched.)
Turn out the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap tightly and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack in the top third and bottom third. Roll out the dough into a 1⁄8-inch-thick disk, then center the dough inside a 9-inch glass pie plate. Gently tuck the dough against the sides of the pan, and trim any excess with kitchen shears. (Use the excess dough to patch any holes in the crust.) Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork and transfer the pie plate to the refrigerator.
Make the topping: In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt until combined. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or your fingers (mixture will resemble fine crumbs). Refrigerate.
Make the filling: In a large heatproof bowl combine the light molasses, blackstrap molasses, boiling water, baking soda, and salt. Stir well to combine. Let cool slightly, then stir in the egg, mixing well.
Brush the edges of the prepared pie shell lightly with beaten egg, then pour the filling into the center. Sprinkle all of the crumb topping over the filling to cover.
Bake in the top third of the oven for 15 minutes. Then carefully transfer the pie to the bottom part of the oven and turn down the heat to 325°. Bake until the pie is still slightly jiggly in the center when shaken, but a tester comes out mostly dry, about 25 minutes more.
Remove and let cool completely. Serve with unsweetened fresh whipped cream.